Friday, October 5, 2007

"Where does the Money go?"

You are probably wondering where the title to my post came from.
Well Noah my son.
Noah asked me this yesterday as we were driving.
He asked me, "Mama where does the money go when you spend it at Wal*Mart or Top Foods? Does it go back to Homeless people?"
Its hard to explain to a 9 yr old that the money we spend at the grocery store does not go to the homeless. Instead it goes to the people who work at the stores, the truck drivers, the manufacturers, basically anyone that touches the product.
Of course as a child its hard to understand Supply and Demand.
It doesn't make sense.

I wondered where he came up with that question though and I finally realized that it had been because of all the shopping at other sources that DO support homeless people or people with needs. He finally noticed something!! We have been shopping a lot lately at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Tacoma which the money goes entirely to support Habitat, the Goodwill which of course supports those who needs jobs and small business owners who might support an organization.
So today when I went out to go shopping for a jar to hold my dogs treats in it, I opted to shop at the Goodwill. Sure I probably would have gotten it cheaper at Wal*Mart, but Noah's right, the money doesn't go to help people. I'm paying for cheaper things because someone somewhere made my stuff for Pennies on the dollar in another country. Because of cheap labor there, I get a cheaper product here.
I just can't do that anymore.

Lately I have been paying attention to labels and where things are made. I mean, hello?! Tons of TOYS were recalled because of dangerous levels of lead in them. And they were made in China. Its like a losing battle!
But what struck me the most was when I was shopping before I went to the Philippines for clothes I kept coming across things made in the Philippines. Now that I've been to the Philippines and I know the people there and how wonderful they are--its just too close to home.
I can't buy knowing that someone is working their butts off for my $5 t-shirt.

So as I'm standing here on my soapbox preaching about this and you are feeling guilty for your $5 t-shirt (trust me I have a ton of them--I used to work @ Old Navy for goodness sake!!) I feel more guilty then you.
What can you do?
Just try to avoid anything not made in the US.
Which is hard.
I honestly cannot afford organic clothing. I truly can't bring myself to buy a $40 t-shirt. I'm just being honest here. But I can afford to stop buying brand new clothes and only buy used. (Except I draw the line at used undies and bras; those gotta be new!!)

Sure my used clothing was probably made in another country and is made out of a material that might not be very eco-friendly, but at least its a small effort to help offset the need to buy brand new. Buying used is hard for me. Personally I'm a clothing snob after having worked in the retail industry for about 10 yrs. I just like new. But in my effort to be more green, new isn't always the best.

I want to keep giving my son habits to live by. Good habits. If he wants me to only shop some where to supports a cause, then I will. And hopefully he will grow up not expecting all new things. He is after all, 9 yrs old and I only have a few years left to leave a lasting impression on him.

BTW, I'm actively trying harder to stop shopping at Wal*Mart. As a wife to a husband in a Union, its not really accepted to shop at places where Unions are not recognized.
I do have an addiction to Wal*Mart, but in my effort to be green it has changed my thinking about the Big Box Stores in general. Besides if I spend more money on something I might normally get for cheaper at Wal*Mart, I tend to use it less. I have to remind myself that its to also save money in the long run.
Just spending money to spend it because its cheap can't be my weakness anymore.....sigh.....Kermit was right, its not easy being green....

1 comment:

Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank said...

I loved this post! I agree with you 100% that it's better to buy used than new and to support businesses with ethical practices and that are going to pass along your money in ethical ways.

And there are so many products we just don't need in the first place. For example, cleaning products. There's a separate product out there for every cleaning job, and that's all just marketing. People tell me that they can't afford green cleaning products because they cost too much. Well, if you're spending money to buy a "green" window cleaner with a photo of a tree on the label that is basically vinegar and water, then yes, you did pay too much. But if you buy straight vinegar and mix it with water from your tap, you haven't paid much at all. Being green can actually be a lot less expensive if we realize we just don't need to buy many things to begin with.